Tom Santilli is a professional film critic, TV personality, host and
the Executive Producer of Movie Show Plus.
He also is the film critic for WXYZ Channel 7 Action News in Detroit,
and appeared weekly on FOX-2 in Detroit from 2016-2020.
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Chronicling the real-life trials and tribulations of convicted murderer Cameron Todd Willingham, Edward Zwick's by-the-book courtroom drama is ignited by its two lead performances.
"Trial by Fire" tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham (Jack O'Connell), a father in Texas who was convicted of arson and murder following the death of his three young children, when his house caught fire while his wife Stacy (Emily Meade) was out shopping. Willingham had a criminal record and a bad temper, but maintained his innocence throughout. And while his wife admitted to some spousal abuse (going both ways), she adamantly pronounced that he would never, ever hurt his children.
But the courts thought differently. Willingham was convicted and sentenced to death, as is the law in Texas. Enter Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern), a school teacher who befriends Willingham and ends up advocating for him. As his death sentence approaches, she fights desperately to prove his innocence.
While this type of movie seems like a dime-a-dozen, and is filled with several courtroom drama clichés, it’s at least done well. The performances too, make Trial by Fire worth checking out.
Genre: Biography, Drama.
Run Time: 2 hours 7 minutes.
Starring: Jack O'Connell, Laura Dern, Emily Meade.
Directed by Edward Zwick ("Glory," "Courage Under Fire," "Blood Diamond," "Pawn Sacrifice").
"Trial by Fire" is opening in limited-release this Friday, May 17th, 2019.
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